By Joshua Melvin
San Jose Mercury News
The concept of a four-city fire department in the midcounty area, which officials estimate could save a total of $1.5 million per year for its partners, moved a step closer to reality Tuesday night in San Bruno and Millbrae.
Both city councils unanimously approved creating a plan that would be a road map for merging their fire services with those of Hillsborough and Burlingame, which already operate as the Central County Fire Department. San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said the plan itself is slated to come before all four councils within 60 days.
On Monday, Hillsborough's elected leaders also OK'd the move, and Burlingame is expected to take on the issue at its council meeting Monday, said Millbrae Mayor Dan Quigg.
As part of the rough design so far for the merger, Millbrae and Burlingame would each shutter a station, and a new one would be constructed to cover neighborhoods in both communities. Consolidating those stations would account for most of the savings.
Millbrae and San Bruno would save $375,000 and $230,000, respectively, while Burlingame could see $546,000 in savings, and Hillsborough could save $364,000.
Ruane said making sure firefighters don't take longer to get to a call under the new arrangement is a high priority. The idea, he said, is to save money while providing the same service. Part of making sure that happens is a plan to do a trial period with the consolidated station, where officials could see if coverage suffers.
The merger has been in the works since 2004 and would come after a series of reports on the wisdom and possible savings that could result from consolidation.
Millbrae and San Bruno already share fire Chief Dennis Haag and three battalion chiefs.
Burlingame and Hillsborough save an estimated $3.3 million per year collectively with their merged operations.
Tough economic times and budget gaps have been a motivating factor for joining the services. Officials believe they can save money by sharing equipment and personnel.
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335.
How much money could be saved, by city, if plans are approved:
San Bruno: $230,000
Source: San Jose Mercury News - Original Article Link